Is icing the kicker a waste of time?

September, 24, 2009
9/24/09
1:34
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


The question pops into your head almost every time it happens:
AFC East kickers in the clutch: Iced and not iced
Kicker Team Iced Not iced Total
Dan Carpenter Dolphins 1/1 0/0 1/1
Rian Lindell Bills 2/3 3/4 5/7
Stephen Gostkowski Patriots 0/0 0/0 0/0
Jay Feely Jets 3/6 5/9 8/15

Does icing the kicker really work?

Some believe it does, that it's wise psychological warfare at a critical time.

Some say no, that it gives the kicker more time to prepare, maybe even allows him to get a practice kick in if the opposing coach waits too long or even to clear his spot on a snowy field.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando endeavored to find out if data supported either theory by asking ESPN Stats & Information to track the numbers.

Research suggests that icing the kicker in clutch situations works.

The definition of a clutch kick was an attempt from at least 35 yards inside the final two minutes with the score tied or the kicking team trailing by fewer than three points.

In overtime, iced kickers made 58.1 percent of their tries from an average of 41.9 yards away. Kickers who were left alone made 72.7 percent from nearly two yards farther out.

Overall, iced kickers converted 65.1 percent of their attempts from an average distance of 44.9 yards. Kickers who weren't iced made 68.9 percent from 45.1 yards away.

Some AFC East tidbits from the stats, which date to 2001:
  • I guess I never noticed because the New England Patriots have scored so many points since he joined them in 2006, but Stephen Gostkowski has never been asked to make a clutch kick (by our definition) in his career.
  • Former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri is 11 for 12 in clutch situations. He's 8 for 8 when not iced, 3 for 4 when iced.
  • Jay Feely, who has kicked for the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants since 2001, had some bad numbers. But three of those boo-boos occurred in an overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks in 2005. Feely missed three potential game-winning field goals. He missed from 40 yards at the final gun and from 54 yards and 45 yards in sudden death, a game that inspired a "Saturday Night Live" skit.
  • Former Jets kicker Mike Nugent is 2 for 3. He was iced for his lone miss.
  • Former Miami Dolphins kicker Olindo Mare is 5 for 8 overall. He was 4 for 6 when he wasn't iced.

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